REV. DR. RICHARD HUGHES (at left), shown with Iryna and Raymond Ferretti, found himself at a loss for words after listening to Iryna’s story Sunday about her native country, Ukraine. “Iryna touched all of our hearts,” he said. (Courtesy Photo)

 

NORTH READING – China Cuisine and the Union Congregational Church are teaming up to help the people of Ukraine and the more than 2 million refugees who have fled the war in that country.

Thanks to a special partnership between the restaurant and the church there is an opportunity to make the donations of North Reading residents go even further. Victor and May Hui, long-time owners of China Cuisine, are also members of the Union Congregational Church and over the next two weeks all donations will be matched, up to $20,000. Prior to the offering this past Sunday the Rev. Dr. Richard A. Hughes, senior pastor of the church, announced that $3,389 had already been raised.

Donations may be dropped off at China Cuisine, 235 Main St., or the Union Congregational Church, 148 Haverhill St. All donations will be forwarded to the International Red Cross.

Deeply moved by Ukrainian-born woman’s story

The service this past Sunday also included a dialogue sermon with Iryna Ferretti who was born and raised in Ukraine. Iryna now lives in Marston Mills and is married to Raymond Ferretti who is the nephew of Nancy Ferretti, a life-long North Reading resident and member of the church.

During the dialogue sermon Iryna talked about her country and asked everyone to pray for the Ukrainian people. Rev. Hughes, who did the dialogue sermon with Iryna, said that he was deeply moved by her story as were all the people attending the service.

 

THE FERRETTI FAMILY: Lifelong North Reading resident Nancy Ferretti (at far left) with her nephew, Raymond, his wife, Iryna, and her daughter Lisa (at far right). Inspired by Iryna’s story, the UCC is raising funds for Ukrainian refugees which China Cuisine will match, up to $20,000. (Courtesy Photo)

 

“Like so many other people our hearts have been full of sadness but also righteous indignation at what is being inflicted upon the Ukrainian people and the service Sunday was amazing. In almost 40 years of ordained ministry I am hard pressed to think of another service that was as inspiring and meaningful as this one was,” Hughes said, adding that there were tears of sadness but also lots of hope.

“There was even a little laughter when Iryna talked about her two children who were born in this country and how they love the fact that their mother is from Ukraine. Because of the different liturgical calendars she said that it means they get to celebrate Christmas and Easter twice!” he said. According to Iryna all her children’s friends are jealous of them because of that.

At the end of the dialogue sermon everyone in the church’s sanctuary gave Iryna a standing ovation. After the service Rev. Hughes told Iryna that she now has an entire congregation of friends who will continue to support her and the Ukrainian people. “I am so blessed to be the pastor of a congregation that is so dedicated to living out their faith in a way that is determined to be a force for healing, love and reconciliation in our community, our country and the wider world,” Rev. Hughes said.

Before Iryna left he told her that when her country is free again she would definitely have to come back to North Reading to celebrate with the congregation. “Be careful what you wish for,” Iryna’s husband Raymond said. “Ukrainians really know how to celebrate!” he said. He then went on to explain that when he and Iryna were married in her Ukrainian hometown the celebration at the reception went on for 16 hours!

The UCC service can be viewed on the church’s YouTube channel, NRUCC.